Merge-Santo: New Threat to Food Sovereignty
A briefing by the ETC Group
As ETC first warned in May[i] last year and again in February[ii] this year, the pressure of two mergers among the Big Six Gene Giants would make a third merger inevitable. In the last few days the business media have reported that Monsanto is in separate talks with Bayer and BASF – the two German giants among agricultural input companies. While anti-competition regulators are fussing about the hook up of DuPont with Dow and of Syngenta with Chem China, Monsanto urgently needs to make a match. They hope that if regulators let the other two deals go through, they won’t be able to deny Monsanto a chance to even the score.
If the companies get their way, the first links in the industrial food chain (seeds, pesticides) will be in the hands of just three companies. If the marriages of DuPont-Dow and Syngenta–Chem China go through and Monsanto merges with Bayer’s Agricultural division, the three will control more than 65% of global pesticide sales and almost 61% of commercial seed sales. If Monsanto and BASF strike a deal instead, the Titanic Three will still have almost 61% of pesticides and more than 57% of seeds (see chart below).
Either way, a fourth move will be inevitable. Whichever company is left at the altar (Bayer or BASF) will have to buy or sell since it won’t have the clout to take on the Three. Either could prove irresistible for Deere & Co. or one of the other huge farm machinery companies that are in the best position to ultimately dominate all on-farm related agricultural inputs from seeds and pesticides to fertilizers, machinery, data and insurance.